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NSERC PDF program application tutorial


Video Name

NSERC undergraduate programs summary


NSERC Communications



Release Date

September 19, 2011


This video guides students through the process of applying to the NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowships Program.

NSERC PDF program application tutorial


The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council supports students at all stages of their post-secondary education. This video will provide information about NSERC's programs for postdoctoral fellows. Keep in mind that this is intended as an overview only. For more details, you should read the complete program description and instructions for completing an application.

This tutorial will guide you through the process of applying for a Postdoctoral Fellowship from NSERC. This process requires you to complete Form 201 on NSERC's on-line system, and submit it electronically.

To apply for a Postdoctoral Fellowship on line, go to the home page on the NSERC Web site, select "On-line Services" from the left-hand menu, or select "Login" from the bottom left of any page on the site.

We strongly recommend that you review the instructions for Form 201 – Application for an NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship or Postdoctoral Fellowship. You can find the instructions by selecting the PDF Forms and Instructions link. Remember that this tutorial is intended as an overview and will not cover every aspect of completing this form.

If you have questions that are not answered by the information on our Web site, contact NSERC's On-line Services Helpdesk.

If you are a previous user, log in to the site. Otherwise, register as a first-time user. On the e-Console page, choose "Forms – Student." 

On the "My Portfolio" page, select Form 201 from the drop-down menu, then select "Create." The next page will prompt you to choose which program you are applying to and input the title of your proposal. After you create a file, you can close and re-open it as often as you wish. The system will prompt you to save your information every time you move to another page. Note that the system will log you out automatically without saving your changes after a period of inactivity.

The left side of the screen shows a list of the various pages to be completed. As you select each page, enter the appropriate information. Refer to the instructions as you need to.

The PIN referred to in this page is assigned to you by NSERC. If you have submitted an application in the past and don't remember your PIN, contact the On-line Services Helpdesk. Return to the e-Console page and enter your PIN. It will then appear automatically on the "Person Profile" page. If this is your first application to NSERC, leave this field blank. Your PIN is not your Social Insurance Number, student number or the reference number provided by the On-line System. Some of the information requested here, such as your status as a visible minority or disabled person, is used for statistical and administrative purposes only.

Please enter your current mailing address and contact information. It is very important to notify NSERC of any changes by e-mail or telephone. Any updates you make through the on-line system after an application has been submitted will not be associated with that application.

You may choose whether to include degrees outside the natural sciences and engineering. You will only be required to provide transcripts for your doctoral program.

Use this page to enter any of your work experience that is relevant to this application. You can list up to six entries that describe experience in science or engineering, or that demonstrate your research ability, leadership and communication skills. Experiences gained as part of a program of study are appropriate to include.

On this page, list up to 10 awards that you have received as part of a competitive process, including previous awards from NSERC. You may also include non-monetary awards. Include all the awards that have been offered to you, even if you declined them. The value of each award should also be indicated.

You can list up to three locations where you would like to hold your fellowship. These can include Canadian universities (other than the university where you received your doctorate); provincial research institutions in Canada; other appropriate research laboratories in Canada (other than government or industrial labs); and universities and research centres abroad. You may hold your fellowship abroad only if you have received your doctorate from a Canadian university.

Provide a detailed rationale for your choices of location. This rationale can be up to one page long and justifies your choice of location in relation to your research topic. Use plain language that is understandable by someone with a general background in your discipline. As a reminder, you may not hold a fellowship at the same institution where you earned your PhD, unless there are exceptional circumstances. You will need to provide strong justification and find a new department and supervisor. The committee will decide whether your request is approved.

The questions on this page relate to other options that may be available to you depending on the results of the competition. Applicants who want to be considered for a Visiting Fellowship in a Government Laboratory, an Industrial R&D Fellowship or the Canada-UK Millennium Research Award supplement must complete this section. Meritorious Postdoctoral Fellowships applications may be pre-approved for the Visiting Fellowships and Industrial R&D Fellowships programs. If you choose to be considered, NSERC will contact you for the additional information needed for these programs. 

If you have completed or are completing a doctoral thesis, summarize it here. This information should be different from what you will enter in the "Proposed Research" page.

Select a Research Subject Code that best describes your discipline. This code will also determine the selection committee that is most suited to evaluate your application. You may choose up to 10 key words that describe your area of research more closely. These will help NSERC staff assign your application to the most appropriate reviewers on the selection committee.

This one-page outline of your proposed research program is a very important part of the application and is also used to verify subject eligibility. Before you complete this section, read the instructions carefully. Even if you have not yet defined your research direction, you must complete this section, since the selection committee will be evaluating your ability to write a research proposal and your knowledge of the field. You are not bound to the proposed research project as long as your new project still falls within NSERC's mandate. Describe your research with as much detail as possible. The information should include your overall objectives, an outline of your approach, the methods and procedures you plan to use, and the significance of your research to the field you are studying and to the natural sciences and engineering. The focus of your proposed research should be what you plan to undertake for the period during which you are to hold the award. If your research is a continuation of your current thesis, clearly state the differences between the work that you have done for your thesis and the research activities outlined in this proposal. The content must be written by you. It should not be an extract from your supervisor's grant proposal, nor should it refer reviewers to internet links or other publications for details. You should include appropriate references, but these have to remain within the page limitation. The system will only allow you to attach a one-page document.

Complete this section if your research is in a discipline that falls under the mandate of more than one federal granting agency such as psychology, management studies, geography, physical education, bio-medical engineering, health sciences, bioinformatics, or biostatistics. Describe the natural sciences or engineering research challenges of the project on which you propose to work during the tenure of your scholarship or fellowship. Explain clearly what you will be doing and why it should be considered research that is predominantly natural sciences or engineering. This section should not exceed one page. There are three parts to the document you must attach in the "Contributions/Statements" page. It is important to follow the order and format as outlined in the instructions. The system will only allow you to attach a four-page document. For the committee to be able to assess your excellence, it is critical that you describe your role in each of the various contributions. Describe as clearly as you can the impact of your contributions. Do not underestimate the influence this section can have on the evaluation of your application. If any of these sections do not apply to your situation, indicate this in your application. The committee should not be left with unanswered questions. NSERC will not accept updates to this information once the application has been submitted.

In this section you will be asked to upload a scanned copy of your doctoral transcript. The university legend on the reverse page should only be scanned once. If you are successful in the competition, you will be asked to submit the official copy for verification before you take up your award. If your transcript is in a language other than English or French, it must be translated and certified.

Your application must include two Reports on the Applicant. These reports should be prepared by people who are familiar with your work, which normally includes your thesis supervisor and another academic or workplace supervisor. You should provide your referees with a realistic deadline as well as helpful information, such as details about yourself that may remind them of your research, leadership abilities and communication skills. These reports can have a significant effect on the success of your application. Reviewers use them as a source of supplementary information and as an independent verification of other information you provide. If your PhD thesis supervisor is not providing one of the reports, you should indicate the reasons in the special circumstances on the "Contributions and Statement" page. You should communicate with your reviewers well before the deadline and give them the option to say no. 

On this page, enter the names and e-mail addresses of your referees. Once you save this information, an e-mail will be generated by the On-line System inviting the referees to complete their Report on the Applicant. You will also be able to see the status of your request.

You have now completed entering your information. Select the "Portfolio" menu item to continue.

This page allows you to verify that your application is complete.

Correct the errors listed on the verification report and re-verify. When your verification report shows that your application is complete, submit it electronically.

We would like to leave you with these last reminders.

  • Remember – follow instructions.
  • Pay attention to font size, margins, page limits, etc.
  • Make sure you use clear, concise writing.
  • Proofread for spelling and grammar.
  • Be sure to provide all needed documentation.
  • Choose your referees with care.
  • And be aware of the deadline.

NSERC's on-line resources also include two other videos – one that offers tips on making your application stand out for reviewers and another that explains the peer review process that happens after you submit your application. If you have questions, please refer back to the instructions for completing Form 201 or other documents on our Web site, or contact us directly.

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